Tag: career

NOTE: The pics that backdrop some of my template have up and disappeared (!!!!!!:( ).  I will see if I can load them up before the day ends.

Wow!  This week totally flew by, and when I say flew, I mean in more than one way.  I was basically in the air almost every day this week–not a usual occurence, but one I do enjoy when it happens.  On Monday, I headed out to Naples and back, Tuesday brought some training, Wednesday we flew to Rota, Spain and then we flew the return leg Friday.  This morning, I’m in early again for a trip to Greece and then back to Naples.  In total, more than 25 hours airborne.  I feel like a world traveler, a vagabond of some sort.

As is the way with real life (RL we can call it for short), it gets in the way of some things–writing for example.  I do have some concern that I will have trouble maintaining the required pace to complete NaNoWriMo if I draw a busy flying week or two in November, but I am still committed to trying to pull if off.  If push comes to shove, I’ll drag the laptop along and hole up in my room in the evenings to make sure I make my goals.

But I’m not overly concerned about it, because I’m in it for the long haul.  In fact, on one of the flights I got to talking with my co-pilot about the book I’m currently reading (Anita Shreve’s The Pilot’s Wife) and that lead to a discussion of NaNoWriMo, and all that writing a novel entails.

He was surprised (beyond simply finding out that I wrote or tried to write fiction–a very unpiloty occupation) that I had not one but three ideas for novels, all of which I expected to complete over the next two to three years.  Wouldn’t it be better, he questioned, to put all my effort into one novel, send it out, see how it does, before I start into another project?

After sharing that some novelists never even “break out”–to steal a term from Donald Maass–until their third or fourth book, if ever, I explained that I was expecting to stick around for a few years.  I wasn’t expecting quick success.  If I got it, so much the better, but based on an evaluation of my current writing skills and the market, I still have plenty of work to do.  Thus, I think it is unreasonable to expect to achieve overwhelming success on the first try, although I do understand that it happens from time to time.  It’s a question of whether people are buying what you’re selling.

A thousand years ago, in another life, when I sold life insurance and financial products door-to-door for a national insurance company, I had one of my sales managers explain the problem thusly:

1) Assume that for every ten doors you knock on, you get in three doors.  In other words, they want to hear your presentation, hear what you have to say.

2) Then assume that for every ten customers who hear your presentation, three say yes they are interested.

3)  Then assume that for every ten that say yes, seven are qualified (after seeing the doctor, etc.).

What that means is, if I wanted to sell ten policies a month (enough to make a living on), I would need to knock on 159 doors.

In the interest of showing my work:

159   x .3 =  47.7 let you in.

47.7  x .3 =  14.3 show interest.

14.3  x .7 =  10.01 are qualified and purchase a policy.

For me, the takeaway is that you can’t predict what people will like.  You can’t judge the market or time your submission to give you an advantage.  You might get lucky and market realities or some new buzz might help you out, but the opposite is just as likely to happen.  The only choice left then, IMHO, is to keep slogging away until some agent somewhere bites–and that means knocking on a lot of doors.  In my mind that means having more than one novel in the planning phase–and querying anyone and everyone with the one completed.

It’s like when Isaac Asimov–who wrote more than 700 books in his lifetime–was asked what he would say if his doctor told him he had only six months left to live.  “Type faster,” he said.  😀

What about you?  What is your approach to planning your next writing project?  Do you have subsequent projects in the works, even before you’ve completed the one you’re working on?  How do you go about knocking on doors, or querying?

This morning, I woke to find my FB page abuzz over this recent HuffPo article about the latest job market problem: applications from the currently unemployed will not be considered, no matter the reason.

Frankly, since I am within a couple years of retiring from the military and will soon be looking for a new job, this kind of news strikes a unique kind of fear in my faint heart.  Bottom line: the Navy has been really good to me and the security and constancy of this job is one thing that has been hard not to take for granted.

But it also occurs to me that this employment problem is similar to the problem of getting published.  It’s a vicious cycle.  No agent or publisher wants to touch you if you’re unpublished, but you’re unlikely to be published until an agent or publisher touches you.  Normally, I getta big kick outta these Catch-22 dilemmas, but this particular one is downright depressing.

A good friend of mine, a writer whose material tends toward the literary and often lacks elements sought after by the mainstream industry, has decided the best course of action is to publish a few short stories.  Let’s call this the shotgun approach.  He is not being picky on who will publish his stuff.  He is basically taking what he can get and having some success at it–none of the publications are big names, but at least it’s a start.  Then he can put those accolades into his query letter and up his chances that an agent (or agent’s assistant) will pause just long enough to give his unconventional novel a chance.  This approach builds on a number of smaller successes which will hopefully lead to a contract with an agent.

On the other hand, there is a simplicity in the idea of hooking an agent on the strength of a single novel-length work.  You know the feeling: focus on a story with a single set of characters and make them pop off the page.  I call this the “one shot, one kill” approach.  It would feel amazing to actually pull it off, to yodel from the rooftops after I got that fateful call from the Dream Agent. 

Plus, being a good novelist doesn’t necessarily make you a good short story writer, or vice versa.  Short stories are more difficult to structure, and some folks just need the extra space to tell their stories.  Many of my own ideas first appear to be shorts but in fact seem to work best as novella length or longer stories. 

At the moment, I am leaning toward the shotgun approach.  What are your thoughts?  Which path are you on–“one shot, one kill” or the “shotgun” approach?

Howdy, gang!

A quick note today, as Furnace Girl, The Muffin and I are still in the sleep-now, sleep-later throes of Lag de Jet, among other things.

In the last few days, we’ve discovered that hotel life isn’t for the faint of heart, and we’re in the process of learning a canoe-full of wonderful things about this place called Sicily.  Oh, and we’ve been looking for a place to live too.  Mustn’t forget that little item on the Honey-Do list.

So today, I’d like to direct your attention out the windows on the right side of the WSMG tour bus to a (pretty amazing, if you ask me) post by the Authoress where she lays down the most persuasive argument I’ve yet read/heard for making writing a career, not just a hobby.

If you haven’t had a chance to stop by and follow Miss Snark’s First Victim, you really should.  The Authoress consistently dispenses cut-straight-to-the-bone pointers like the wisdom in the post above, and she hosts a number of fun writing contests and critique sessions sure to expand the knowledge of even the most erudite among you.  I know I always walk away with a useful nugget or two.

Be sure to stop by and say hello.  Oh, and one other thing: how you doin’ on this fine June Tuesday?  :)